Europe should be aiming for 10pc broadband penetration in the near future, Communications Minister Dermot Ahern TD said at a European Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Budapest earlier today.
If this ambition were to be achieved, Ahern (pictured) said that there had to be a compelling reason for consumers to use broadband.
“We need to reinforce the pan-European dimension to e-Europe and to capitalise on opportunities for exchange of best practise across Europe. This will be dealt with at the EU Informal Council of Ministers meeting in Dundalk from 21st to 23rd April. The point I want to make is a simple one – getting broadband penetration anywhere close to 10pc is about creating a compelling reason for people to use the product.”
Ahern’s speech underpinned the recent announcement to invest €18m in broadband across Ireland’s schools as well as recent revelations that tax breaks in the future could be used to encourage wider adoption of broadband in homes and at work as well as corporate contributions of used equipment to schools, libraries and community centres around Ireland.
Ahern said: “I believe there should be free broadband for schools and libraries. Earlier this week I announced an initiative in Ireland where we will deliver broadband to 4,100 primary and secondary schools throughout the country. If you have broadband at school you will want it in your home.
“Telcos should view the delivery of free broadband to schools across Europe as an opportunity to grow demand.”
Minister Ahern added that Ireland would press ahead with future enlargement. “We will prioritise work in relation to Romania and Bulgaria with the aim of concluding negotiations in 2004. We also welcome Turkey’s efforts to fulfil the necessary criteria with a view to a decision to be taken at the European Council next December.”
By John Kennedy